Growing up, my parents constantly made me aware of the importance of recycling. While it was difficult at first to remember which items were recyclable and which weren’t, it eventually became an issue that we all valued and cared about. We felt that we were doing our little part to save the world.
Once I moved to Valdosta, I was expecting to still be able to recycle. I quickly learned that there were no weekly pick-ups or recycling bins placed around my neighborhood.
I researched the closest recycling center and filled my car up with all of the recyclables that I had collected over the past couple of months (it had gotten to be quite a lot). When I arrived at the center, to recycle there, I had to purchase a recycling card for $100. Refusing to pay that much just to recycle, I was left with a trunk full of recyclable cans and bottles and no place to take them.
I called the water department and asked them where exactly that money went. I was informed the government stopped funding the recycling center and they now have to charge citizens to use the site.
On the Valdosta city website, they claim that “[t]he City of Valdosta encourages residents to reduce, reuse, and recycle.” The question is: are they truly encouraging citizens to recycle, or just encouraging us to pay for something that they can’t do themselves?
Valdosta needs to bring its focus back to recycling and live up to its creed. If they won’t fund the recycling center, at least they could encourage the 48,000-plus inhabitants of the city to actively participate in recycling, perhaps through a few incentives. For example, in Michigan, the state actually gives citizens ten cents when they recycle beer cans. While 10 other states promote recycling by repaying citizens for recycling, Michigan is the only state that provides ten-cent compensation per bottle. And Michigan actually has a 90 percent return rate for soda and beer cans, which is the highest in the United States. I think that if this idea was to be launched in Valdosta, we’d see a noticeable change in the amount of items being recycled.
The bars are also a perfect place to start a recycling program. Plenty of beer cans, plastic cups and glass bottles are thrown away in the trash cans every night. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get those students at the bars to become concerned about the matter and eager to do something about it? I believe that we would see a major change in our community if more and more people realized how much of an impact they would have by simply tossing their beer cans into the bin labeled “recycling” instead of “trash.”
Data from: http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/environment/Sept-Octo/Michigan-s-Generous-Bottle-Refund-Law-Poses-Problems.html